The story of a family.

For Judith, Elisabeth and John and their families, as promised (under pressure!) with such great love from their Dad.


Commenced on May 21st, his 67th birthday 1984 - to meet a desire of John that Chapter 1 should be part of his, John's, birthday present on May 23rd. Commenced? Well, put into some shape then.

The story of a family which made contact with the New Church probably in 1790 and which ever since has stayed close to the centre of the Church and of the Swedenborg Society - and of the many other families into which it has married and which, in most cases, remain known in the Church.

As I write, I hope to work down the generations of the Presland family (stopping, except for a postscript, with my father) and to link in to each generation its connections by marriage. The Presland generations go like this down to me:

1. John Presland - met the Church in 1790
2. John Presland - a great worker in the Church
3. Thomas Presland of Argyle Square Church
4. (the Rev. John Presland - the first to be a Minister) and his brother, the Rev. William Presland who gave us
5. (The Rev. John Rous Presland and his brothers Claud and Herbert and Fred) Fred was father of six, one
6. Of whom is the Rev. C.H. Presland, the 6th generation
7. The three to whom this hasty script is offered and their children become the
8th Generation in the Church on the Presland side and let us see how their background develops, as I write, from the other sides of the family.


'Thanks be to Him who blessed the Marriage at Cana in Galilee and who "setteth the solitary in families and in whom all the families of the earth are blessed."' (Psalm 68,'6 - Genesis 12.31k)

"With a regenerate person, good and truths, that is the things of charity and those of faith deriving from it interrelate like blood relatives and relatives through marriage, and so they are like families descended from a single stock or parent. This is the order which the Lord brings to goods and truths." Swedenborg in Arcana Caelestia 917.

May the family be a family of good and of truth in every one of its members! Bless you all.


(My grandfather's grandfather and my grandfather's great-grandfather.)

I know nothing of John Presland senior save what the Rev. W.A. Presland tells us in his printed article which becomes the next few pages of this chapter. I have often thought I would go to Epping, beginning at the parish Church there, and see what I could trace in the registers: I probably never shall get around to it, for the living Church is much more important to me than history and time gets filled up. I have heard that there was in my College days (1937 to 1941) a Presland farm in Epping and I was only a few miles away for our Church College was then in Woodford Green - but in those days I fear I was a philistine indeed and I had no shadow of interest in my ancestors.

Let W.A. Presland, of whom you will hear much more when we get to his generation, tell us of his grandfather, John Presland, who was in the early days of the New Church a considerable figure: let us read the obituary of John and his wife Mary Ann, who seems to have been a darling, and I will complete chapter 1 by telling you what I know about them from other sources.


By the Reverend William A. Presland (1856-1937)

(1) Early Days in the New Church

The little town of Epping, distant about eighteen miles from the Royal Exchange, is situated between the main and the lower Forests of that name. The high road to Newmarket runs through its very wide main street, which still retains much of an early quaintness. Here, on December 15th, 1772 (Swedenborg died on March 29th of that year), was born to John and Sarah Presland a fourth child and second son (their first, named William, is overlooked in the obituaries, which speak of the second as the eldest), whom they named John. His parents belonged to a congregation of Calvinistic Dissenters; and it is recorded that "from his earliest years the bent of his mind was turned to virtue and piety". (See his obituary in The Intellectual Repository 1826, p. 351.)

When this son was about eighteen, probably in 1790, John Presland the elder came to spend a few days in London, and the friend he was visiting undertook to give him as full a view as possible in one Sunday of the religious professions of the Metropolis. They began at 5 a.m. with a service at Mr. Wesley's; and so they passed, with as little interval as possible, from one place of worship to another the day through. It was but seven or eight years since the five readers of Swedenborg had come together at The London Coffee House; and the first place of worship in London for the New Church, in Great Eastcheap, had only been open some six years. Thither in the evening came John Presland and his guide to hear, as the latter said, "the most curious doctrines of any you have heard yet". The preacher was the first of New-Church ministers - the Reverend James Hindmarsh, and my great-grandfather, on being asked how he liked what he had heard, answered, "I have belonged to a religious society all my life, and have heard a great many ministers preach, but have never heard the pure truth until now". On returning home he related what he had heard with joy, and his son John was greatly interested. Coming soon thereafter to settle in London, he began to hear, read and judge for himself, and was convinced that what his father had discovered for him was the truth indeed.

From the memorial notice already cited we learn further that its subject possessed such a capacity of exertion as falls to the lot of few, and a buoyancy of spirit which rendered him regardless of fatigue, fitting him for the earnest promotion of the cause of the New Church. His zeal and charity were united with prudence. "His active exertions also, and his liberal mind, were not restricted to the promotion of the religious establishment which he had embraced with such affection; he was the earnest promoter of other charitable objects; thus, for instance, his love of music, joined with his benevolent disposition, made him take a deep interest in The Choral Fund which for many years owed a great part of its support to his extraordinary diligence, and the patronage he procured for it". The memoir remarks that "every institution formed (in London at least), having for its object the promotion of the cause of the New Church, found in him a generous patron and an efficient member; and of most of them he was one of the founders". This notably applies to The Swedenborg Society and, we may add, to The Missionary and Tract Society of the New Church.

"Few performed their duties to their families as did our departed friend". In that duty he doubtless had the best of help from one to whom he refers in his letters as "my blessed wife", "my blessed angel wife", and in like terms of deep conjugial affection. The present writer, among his very earliest recollections, remembers sitting in the lap of the sweet little octogenarian grandmother, picking out in the big Bible the round O's and crooked Q's. Their five sons and three daughters had the full advantage of a judicious New-Church upbringing. Not even this, however, can ensure thorough acceptance in heart and mind of New-Church teachings: it is a purely personal matter. Of them all, only my father, Thomas Presland, and his sister Mary - afterwards Mrs. Roger Crompton, linked with Kearsley and the College - grew into really earnest New-Church people.

The obituary referred to, and that in The New Jerusalem Magazine 1826, p. 319, are, however, available for those who wish to consult them, and my purpose is rather to present matter from another source. There came into my hands some years ago, on the death of an aged relative, a packet of letters written by my grandfather. There are still many living in London [this was written before 1910! Ed.] who will remember Miss Ann Mould, long connected with the Cross Street and Camden Road Societies. Her mother was a younger sister of his, and was married at St. James's Church, Westminster, in September 1815. They resided at Huddersfield, whence Mr. Mould had come to claim his bride. The first letter bears the date 'November 21st, 1815', and evidently accompanies some belated wedding presents. The writer mentions notification from the Commissioners for the New Street (was it St. James's Street?) that his house (224 Piccadilly) would be required for that improvement. He refers to several well-known worthies - Mr. and Mrs. Jones, "L.A." (indicating the Jones's of Long Acre); Mr. and Mrs. Churchill; Mrs. Barth; Mrs. Butter; and Mr. and Mrs. Jenkins. Then comes an effort to interest his brother-in-law in the Writings. "I have enclosed you a report of the late Conference, held at Manchester, wherein you will find the names of some of a society near Huddersfield. I should suppose that any book-seller in Huddersfield could get you The True Christian Religion from Manchester. The state of our society at Lisle Street is improving, I hope internally as well as externally. May the Divine blessing of Heavenly Love be ever with you, and may you by Divine assistance be enabled to put away everything that would check its benign operation on your will; so you will experience that internal state of blessedness which causes heaven to dwell on earth, and makes angels of men! My dear Mould, I cannot conclude without seriously and affectionately recommending you to read some of the Writings of E.S.; devote a short portion of your time to that purpose. You will find genuine truths in them which should be stored up in the mind. You do not know what states you have to pass through, and it is wisdom to acquire truths, and store them up for the life, that they may be brought forth as weapons in the holy warfare against evils and falses, which warfare every one of us must pass through in some degree. I would recommend The Doctrine of Life and The Doctrine of the Lord to begin with, and as you will no doubt love what you read in them you will be prompted to read others". Very good advice, this, and from the daughter's devotion to the Church, we judge not lost upon her father.

(2) John Presland and Queen Caroline {Wife of George IV. Unhappily married and separated from her husband, she went to live abroad. Returning to England in 1820, she was tried before the House of Lords for alleged misconduct, but the Bill was not proceeded with. There was great popular sympathy for her.}

The next letter is dated December 2nd, 1820. On June 6th Queen Caroline had landed at Dover, in protest against the action of her royal spouse, George IV. The letter bears testimony to the excited state of the Metropolis. The writer regrets that he was unable to visit Huddersfield last August (Conference had met in Derby. Urgent reasons had compelled him homeward). "The general opinion was that our street (King Street) and the Square (St. James) would have been the scene of alarming bloodshed. I have been very glad that I was at home; the multitudes that visited our neighbourhood cannot be described - I think it a most wonderful circumstance that although the Horse Guards paraded our street and the square every night and evening for about a fortnight not a single accident happened".

Then follows a domestic aside; a reference to a dangerous fall Mrs. Mould and "little Ann" had experienced. He continues: "Our dear friend Mr. Charles Jenkins (the first Treasurer of the Swedenborg Society) departed this life on 25th of October last after a few days' illness. Mr. T. Jones and myself and Mr. Birchall (friends in Manchester please note!) are left his executors. His loss is much regretted by everyone who knew him, and the Church will experience it in being deprived of his generous support. His funeral sermon was delivered by Mr. Goyder at the New Church in the Waterloo Bridge Road, which Mr. Goyder mainly contributed to build. When you see our good and worthy friend Mr. Senior (Dalton friends note this!), give our kind respects to him, also to Mrs. Senior and to Mr. Senior junior".

Then comes a lengthy reference to the case of Queen Caroline, with a very interesting personal incident. "My dear sister, you ask to hear my opinion respecting the Queen. I examined her case minutely every day while the witnesses against her were endeavouring to make out her guiltiness. When the case against her was closed, I then, without ever hearing a witness in her favour, summed up deliberately; and, as I have been several times on juries, I asked myself what I should make up my mind to say on my solemn and sacred oath before the heart-searching God. The answer was: The Queen is perfectly innocent, and there is a most foul and wicked conspiracy against her peace, which ought to be exploded, and its authors brought to the light to meet their just reward. Immediately I signed the Requisition for the Meeting of our Parish to express our opinion, which you probably have read in the papers. I joined my neighbours in preparing the address, was deputed to go with it - which I did. The Deputation had the honour to kiss her hand. When she held her hand to me I departed from the usual etiquette and, not believing that there was any virtue in kissing, I thought there might be some in speaking to her. I therefore took her (quietly of course) by the hand, looked full in her face and said, "May God preserve your Majesty from every evil, and crown you with everlasting peace". She, with looks of affectionate dignity, thanked me. After this I heard two other addresses read, and had the opportunity of observing her deportment and manners; they were gentle, mild, affable and at the same time truly dignified. If ever the mind of a human being could be seen in the face when the feelings of the soul are in activity, as hers must have been during the reading of and reply to these addresses, I should say her mind is noble, exalted, chaste and virtuous".

An able description of the Queen's procession on Wednesday, November 29th, follows - according to history, an occasion of "popular demonstrations of joy which have rarely been exceeded". The people evidently were of grandfather's opinion, as Thackeray also testifies: "As I read her trial in history, I vote she is not guilty. I don't say it is an impartial verdict; but as one reads her story the heart bleeds for the kindly, generous, outraged creature. If wrong there be, let it lie at his door who wickedly thrust her from it. Spite of her follies, the great-hearted people of England loved and protected and pitied her".

Something yet remains to be cited from this lengthy epistle - so neatly written on quarto, and carefully crossed, for postage was an item to be considered in those days. "The sad state of the Christian world at this day, indeed the whole aspect of the religious, civil, and political world, plainly demonstrates that the days spoken of by Daniel the Prophet are now fulfilling. The New Jerusalem is the sheet-anchor of the whole world, and those only are its members who look with a single eye to the one only Lord God, and desire in sincerity of heart to be led by the genuine truths of His Word, and to conform their every principle of life to its statutes".

Now we come to a letter, dated July 5th, 1821, referring to the impending Coronation of George IV on July 19th. The writer has been viewing by special favour the interior of Westminster Abbey, "the preparations, both within and without, for the Coronation are immense; yet there is an apathy in the public mind towards it; the subject is evidently unpopular, save with those who are immediately interested and under Court influence. The state of the world is such that we ought to be convinced that the first and only object worth our solicitude is the building up of the heavenly Jerusalem within our own souls, and spreading its life-giving glories all around".

But his correspondents are evidently in trouble. "Dear Brother Mould" is passing through some of those states of whose coming he knew not. "I have nothing to communicate to you, only my ardent desire and prayer to the Almighty beneficent Father of Love that He would cause you both to be supported by His everlasting arms, and cause you to see His Providential mercy, in every state of trial through which you may be led; for, be assured that our disappointments and crosses here are for our eternal good, and that no states of anxiety will ever be permitted by our Heavenly Father but those that are absolutely necessary for our purification and regeneration. Do not suppose that I have so much of my immediate concern to think of, that I cannot find room for a participation with yourselves. I acknowledge that my mind is much occupied in worldly affairs, I think sometimes, heavily laden; but I ought not thus to think, I should rather exclaim, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of (or, in a state near to) the Lord forever".

Troubles, moreover, are beset by this comforter; "I have many places to go to, but scarcely know whether I ought to go or not; trade is so very dull". But he has "a heart at leisure from itself to soothe and sympathize", and writes a postscript - "Should the business you mention not meet your prospects, and you wish to come to London, come most welcome to us - we have room enough - until you get settled. My wife desires it and so do I".

A further letter, under the date December 26th, 1821, shows us an even deeper solicitude, reveals sore troubles pressing on the writer, and again testifies to a deep trust in God. It is written to his sister: "I am very anxious to have a letter from my Dear Brother Mould. May heaven arouse him, and enable him to hit upon something for good! I have troubles which I cannot at present communicate; great anxiety. We dote on our dear children, but we know not what trials they may afford us, or how many sleepless nights they may occasion us by their undutiful, ungrateful conduct. I cannot explain, nor can I very well write any more". What has happened in this well-ordered family to be-dim the writer's eye? We hear a sob as he resists the temptation to invoke sympathy by the details of his sorrow. He banishes Saul's evil spirit of complaining by David's harp-music of joyful confession of the Lord and His goodness. "Oh, may we all be enabled to thank Providence for all things for every state, for every trial! This is indeed resignation. This is where we ought to pray Infinite Love and Wisdom to lead us".

These are the last words of my grandfather's correspondence. And to them we all may well respond, "Amen".

(3) A Walk to Epping Forest

And now I want to present another document. It is headed Description of a Journey, Sunday, August 25th, 1779. I wish the writer had signed it; speculation as to its authorship seems fruitless. But see how it runs:

"I took a walk along with the two Preslands and Mr. Butter; we set off early in the morning and walked as far as The Robin Hood, situated in a very pleasant country on the banks of the River Lea, which separates the two counties of Middlesex and Essex. The Lea runs into the Thames near London; it is navigable for barges. We stopped at this place about two hours, and before breakfast amused ourselves in sailing on the river in two boats, two and two. We each tried our skill in rowing, and perhaps diverted some spectators as much as if they had been at Vauxhall to have seen the grand rowing matches. We proceeded from thence across the country to a pleasant village called Chingford, about twelve miles from town, where we dined; and after dinner amused ourselves in surveying the surrounding country from a very high hill in the neighbourhood, from whence we could distinctly perceive London with its spirey turrets. From this hospitable spot we proceeded on our way to town, through part of one of the King's principal forests, well known by the name of Epping. The whole length of the forest is said to be twenty miles, and the breadth in some places from three to four miles. The cave of the celebrated Turpin is to be seen in this forest. Nearly at the extremity of it is situated a most beautiful village called Woodford. Here [Chingford Mount] you have the finest view of any in England (excepting Richmond) of the surrounding country. It is certainly a most beautiful spot. In the centre of this little mountain is situated a very fine house, which, they say, is the habitation of a spirit-moving gentleman - commonly called a Quaker; but by the external appearance of it you would imagine it belonged to some Earl or Duke. This most enchanting spot is, I believe, about eight miles from town. We proceeded from the above place through the Park of the Earl of Tinley, whose country residence is the noblest and most elegant piece of modern structure I ever beheld. It is built wholly of fine Portland stone, and adorned with the finest figures of Architecture; it is almost surrounded with woods, with here and there a fine lawn interspersed with large ponds of water. We proceeded thence to town, and met with nothing more worthy of note. We set off from London about five o'clock in the morning and walked upwards of thirty miles before we got home again. One of our company, Mr. P., is as good-natured and sensible a young man as ever I wish to meet with; he is a most capital singer, and he and his brother occasionally entertained us with a hymn or anthem. Upon the whole I spent the most agreeable day I have done since I came to town".

It would seem that Sunday outings were not unknown in those days! One so healthful, innocent, and robust, the New Church would not deny as an occasional relaxation to devoted workers in her uses. But who was the "I" of the story? Was he the John Mould who afterwards married the sister of the "sensible young man"? There are hints that Mould may have come "to town" from Sussex; but where is that country so flat that a native should regard Chingford Mount as "a very high hill"? The Mr. Butter was not he of The Spelling Book fame, but his father, in whose house, 47 Devonshire Street, Bloomsbury, The Swedenborg Society's Committee held its meetings for some years.

Curiosity led us recently on a pilgrimage to The Robin Hood. The tavern, though not of the present-day public house type, can hardly be the one which provided our travellers with breakfast. The scene here has probably changed but little. The many red-tiled dwellings near the tavern are evidently part of old Clapton. To it London has crept from the south-west, but the Lea here arrests it. You look across the river from the tavern to Chingford over the fields; but now intersected with a labyrinth of railways, and with many a channel and the reservoirs of the Water Board. No doubt The Lea Conservancy has banked and otherwise improved that stream. But the boats are still there, and it is a fairly pleasant place for a pull.

Little change here, but what vast changes elsewhere! Henry Butter (the younger) used to say he remembered Tottenham Court Road with fields on its western side. The writer, in childhood, romped in the hayfields within a stone's throw of the Camden Road Church [Holloway]. The Cross Street [Hatton Garden] congregation went there as into the suburbs. London grows as a starfish, sending great fingers out along the high roads and railways (which generally are adjacent), leaving deltas of country in between. And here we look over one of them. Epping Forest could not have been finer than now, with its glorious glades of fine old trees, and its heather, ferns, and gorse. The natives of Epping, in that foursome, might be pardoned a little pride in their companions' admiration for it. And we may be no less so now that it is no longer the King's, but our own forest, secured to the City of London for the enjoyment of the people for ever.

By way of conclusion let me recall a memory of my childhood. My grandfather was always keenly interested in the Brightlingsea Society, an interest inherited by my father. Thither for several years we went for the holidays. One day, visiting St. Osyth, my father found out an old market-gardener who looked him up and down with evident interest, and then exclaimed, "You Mr. John Presland's son? I knew him well. He was a fine, handsome man. You not a bit like him!" Never son confirmed high estimates of paternal qualities more fully than did my father.

There is John Presland of the fifth generation, who of late, for the sake of definiteness, has assumed also the name 'Rous', from a New-Church grandfather on his mother's side. "Name him John", said my father, when I suggested 'Thomas', in tribute to my own parent's excellence, "and you will name him after a good man". That conviction was also responsible for the fact that the Church cherishes the memory of a John Presland among its best-known ministers. It was more than appreciation of a joke against himself that made our father many a-time recount old Mr. Cook's comment with great gusto. There was the humble-minded conviction not only that he was "not better than" his father, but that his father was far better than he. But if that were so, then was John Presland worthy indeed of the text that Samuel Noble chose for his funeral sermon at Hanover Street Chapel - "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile".


John Presland was clearly a vigorous and able character, and his devotion to the neonate New Church was full. One finds him coming up frequently in the early history of the Church and of the Swedenborg Society, of which he was a founder member and one notes from its first report amongst the most generous contributors - £50 for the first year, a considerable sum in 1810. He was Chairman and Secretary of the Society, but only for one year in each office where other men seem to have held office for longer periods. One notes that at his death the Society's Annual Report has a very fine tribute to him, but does comment "he was a man of singular integrity and sincerity of character and while his uncommon frankness might sometimes lead him to manifest an appearance of disregarding the view of others, yet it was always apparent that with an ardent regard for the Church was united a most fervent affection of charity towards each and all its members." (Does that cap still fit with some of his descendants, I wonder!) Perhaps he may not have been a good Chairman? We shall never know. It is perhaps here worth comment that the Swedenborg Society is now 175 years old, and for 114 of those years a Presland has been on its Council. (I fear my record adds quite a few years.)

John Presland got around a lot and a word about the Hawkstone Inn may be of interest now. (Watch out in my books for a 1796 beak on Hawkstone Park, too rare to get lost, and a book "A.E. Beilby & his book" which tells a lot on this subject.) Hawkstone Park is a stretch of gorgeous countryside say 15 miles from Shrewsbury, once belonging to Sir Rowland Hill's family, and the Inn is a fine hotel in the hamlet of Weston. I have never been there yet, although I note in modern brochures such as the English Tourist Board produces that the inn is still a great attraction. Nearby are the ruins of the Red Castle, a 13th century fortress. "The Red Castle Rendezvous" became the meeting place, once a year, for those who believed in the works of Swedenborg, whether like the Rev. John Clowes they stayed within the established Church or like many others they formed the New Church organization. It was a rule that "every husband bring his wife with him." No rule perhaps, but there was a high standard of respect for one another and for enjoyment of the surroundings and doubtless of the amenities the fine hostelry offered. The first Hawkstone Meeting was held in 1806 - the last in 1865; and every one was a gathering to speak together of the things most surely believed amongst them. A long journey indeed from London, but John Presland and three companions made that journey, by horse or by stagecoach, in 1810, to tell of their triumph in London, for they had just formed the Swedenborg Society. Could one of us perhaps sleep one day in the room John slept in? I pause to give you cuttings from the record of The Red Castle Rendezvous in 1810 - perhaps less than an eighth of the whole thing - and observe the fastidiousness with which they determined upon their dinner in the next year, 1811, before they separated! They had the good sense in those days to enjoy being together. My 1796 book has a lot of poetry (of sorts) and "Hawkstone! Thy beauties please the eye and charm the thinking mind; Thy Scenes proclaim heaven's power most nigh: in them the LORD we find.." says the gentle little man from Nantwich who wrote it. The Purley Chase, more splendid, of the early 19th Century?

John, is called in Swedenborg Society Annual report 1827 "the special patron of the society in Brightlingsea, an honest, independent and benevolent man of whom it is said that no private individual throughout the kingdom was more completely identified with the cause of the New Church." He was in Brightlingsea frequently - I wrote in Life-Line, March 1981, about a visit he paid in 1813 to get the Society started. "John Presland was prospering in business in Piccadilly and clearly able and willing to be generous financially. He made japanned top hats. They were doubtless very efficient guttering for pre-motor car man, but surely, except for the hale the most plaguey uncomfortable headwear mankind ever dreamt up? Unlike the halo, the top-hat could be sold to the gentry and, family tradition never checked has it, even to the King and the Prince Regent, by the versatile hat maker who did so nicely out of his invention. (At Brightlingsea at that meeting) they adjourned for dinner - to the Swan Hotel perhaps? - and drank many toasts, the first two to the King and Prince Regent. Mr. Presland would doubtless lift his glass high, if tradition is right. Mr. Presland bought the land for the first Church Building (R&P p.201) and secured land and a cottage to rent to Mr. Munson," the leader. Tradition in fact is that John was Hat-Maker by Appointment to the King.

He was a Trustee of Conference, long before incorporation of the Conference, and in fact it was he who took the original Conference Deed to the "Public Office, Southampton Buildings, this fourteenth day of February 1822" for registration. He was one of the group of gentlemen who set up "The Intellectual Repository" as a private venture in 1812, a periodical which continued after he and the others gave it to Conference as a going concern to 1984 when (mistakenly, I suspect we shall find out) the Conference decided to discontinue it. He was a musical man, and "Remembrancer and Recorder" q.v. tells how in 1820 'when Conference wanted a new hymn book he was found to have anticipated its wishes by working on one for years. I think he may have fallen out with men like Robert Hindmarsh not for any of us a difficult thing to do! But you will find in BH's "Rise and Progress of the New Church" references to him on pp 201, 202, 347, 352, 353 et seq.,407 - although he does not figure in the index. My favourite story about his is one I read in some very ancient copy of New Church Herald, told by his grandson (my grandfather), which I have never found again: it seems that, having moved from 224 Piccadilly to King Street, St. James (perhaps he could never afford a decent address?) he was throwing a dinner party, well wined and dined. Flaxman and Barthelemon were amongst the guests. Busy carving away at the side-board, suddenly he said, "it is the devil!" "And what, John," asked Flaxman, "is the devil?" "Ah," says John looking at a particularly delectable plate he had just carved, "I was tempted to keep that lot for myself."

There was a Day School too he and others supported - the New Church Day School belonging to the Church in Waterloo Road, near the Old Vic, The school in 1958 was still standing as a carpenter's shop, in what is now Gerridge Street. I stood in it, and next time I was passing I took my camera with me. Alas! In the interval it had been pulled down. Here is the back page of its report.

Founded in 1822, it lasted until 1853. It had when it collapsed taught 9,266 boys and girls, all of whom had free education (and a good one too, kindly and efficient by the standards of those days) because men like John Presland knew in their hearts that all must be able to know and understand the truth. His family, his money, and his heart were in that school too. There is a nice obituary notice of him in the report of 1827. (Many papers I keep in study - at present in a metal filing box - which should not lightly be destroyed!)

The next chapter, when it comes, will tell about his family. I close this chapter, except for an obituary notice, with Ron Lewin's help. Ron married Beryl, sister of Ray Pulsford, and is therefore linked family wise with us. Ron is fascinated by histories of this sort, and many years ago gave me a family tree. (I cannot reproduce that conveniently, but will write it all in as the chapters come off my typewriter.)

He also gave me notes about John Presland, which I copied hastily. I photo-copy them (if I give time to typing them, I'll not get my date-line of 23rd May for production of chapter 1 !) Here they are;-

(Notes by Ronald Lewin: may not be accurate, in all respects.)

John Presland, the son of John and Sarah Presland, was born 1773/4 possibly in the neighborhood of Loughton, Epping. Had 2 sisters, Susanna and Elizabeth and a brother Samuel. He married Mary Ann Combs at St. Georges, Hanover Square, 30 Oct 1800. They had 5 sons and 4 daughters, born between 1802 and 1818. All but the eldest, John, were baptised at Cross St New Church between 19.2.1804 and 15.3.1818. His wife was baptised there 14 April 1823, but there is not a record of John's baptism into the N.C. He however was a member of Cross St. Society until his death. He probably became connected with the Ch. between 1802 and 1804, although it may have been earlier since the baptism of his eldest son has not been traced. It may have been recorded in one of the early NC registers which has not survived to the present day. Between 1808 and 1816 he was in business at 224 Piccadilly as a Patent Leather Hat Maker. Between 1816 and 1820 this business was moved to 11 King St., St. James, where it remained until his death. He was now described as "Army cap and japanned leather-hat manufacturer." He died 9.9.1826 and was buried in St. James Churchyard, Hampstead Road. His will is uninteresting. It leaves all his personal property and effects to his wife, with a proviso in the event of her marrying again. A codicil dated 3½ yrs after the will (22 Dec 1825) instructs that as his son John had had £1000 during the testator's lifetime, he should receive nothing further except the house in Gt. Windmill St. He was then living in. His widow survived him over 30 years, dying on 21 July 1857 at 17 Coles Terrace, Barnsbury, where she had lived for some years. She had been a member at Cross St & Argyle Square. John P's brother Samuel is, I think, almost certainly the Samuel Presland who in 1838-9 was a member of the Soc. founded in 1810 for printing and publishing Swedenborg."

Obituary from Intellectual Repository Feb 1858

Departed this life, July 21st, 1857, in the 84th year of her age, Mrs. Mary Anne Presland, relict of the late Mr. John Presland. She survived her late beloved husband more than thirty years, during which period, all her energies and affections were devoted to the welfare of her children, all of whom must bear unequivocal testimony to her great affection for them. Self-denying to the utmost, her ready aid was never denied to those who sought it; and many may bear testimony to her unvarying kindness in this respect. An hereditary deafness for some years interfered with her enjoyment of the conversation of her friends, but rarely prevented her constant attendance on Divine worship. Her sight was mercifully granted to her, and with the aid of glasses she was able to read her Bible and her favourite books of devotion until a few weeks previous to her departure. When the trials of sickness, weakness, and suffering incident to removal from this world were at length permitted by her Heavenly Father, she met them in the true spirit of one of His most humble and dependent children; and though for the last few months her sufferings were very trying, she received and most fully acknowledged them as coming from the hand of Love, and bore them with the utmost resignation and patience; every power was, to the utmost limit of its existence, exercised in the worship and praise of her God and Saviour, and when ejaculations and aspirations were all that failing nature could sustain, such devoted and heartfelt service was seldom or never absent from her heart and lips. A life of usefulness - a death of peace. "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord; yea, saith the Spirit, they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them."

"I.R" June 1828 says of "William Presland, 3rd son of the late much respected Mr John Presland" that "he died in the 22nd year of his age" on 5/3/1828. "Not unexpected, preceeded by a very long and most afflicting illness." Kind remarks are made about the young man. I know no more of him. Was it the asthma which his father had? (The Rev. John Rouse Presland fought all his life against asthma.)

Intellectual Repository 1826

On the ninth of September, at his house in King-Street, St. James's Square, aged fifty-three years, Mr. John Presland a gentleman most extensively known, and most universally respected, as a most affectionate member and supporter of the Lord's New Church. He was a native of Epping, in the county of Essex, and received his early religious impressions in a congregation of Calvinistic Dissenters in that place, of which his father was a member: and from his earliest years the bent of his mind was turned to virtue and piety.

The manner in which he was first introduced to an acquaintance with the New Church is somewhat remarkable. His father was once on a visit for a few days in London; and on the Sabbath-day, the friend with whom he was, undertook to give him as complete a view as could be afforded in one day of the religious professions in the metropolis. He conducted him at five o'clock in the morning to a service at Mr. Wesley's chapel: and so took him, with as little interval as possible, the whole day through, from one place of worship to another, taking care to let him hear some of the most celebrated preachers. When evening arrived, his conductor said, "Now I will take you to hear the most curious doctrines of any you have heard yet"and he took him to the Chapel then in Eastcheap, which was the first that was ever opened for worship according to the doctrines of the New Church. The late Mr. James Hindmarsh, the father of the well-known Mr. Robert Hindmarsh, delivered the discourse.' Mr. Presland's father responded in his heart to all he heard, "This is the truth and when his friend asked him, when they came out, how he liked what he had heard; he answered, "I have belonged to a religious society all my life, and I have heard a great many ministers preach; but I never heard the pure truth until now." On returning home, he related with joy to his family the discovery he had made; and his eldest son, our date friend, in particular, felt greatly interested by his statement. The old gentleman did not live long afterwards to cultivate a knowledge of the truth for which he had thus formed an attachment: but his son coming to settle in London, when about eighteen years of age, began to hear, read, and judge for himself; and he was soon fully convinced that what his father had discovered for him was the truth indeed.

As he advanced to maturer age, his convictions still strengthened; and to support and promote the extension of a Church in whose doctrines he found such satisfaction, became his perpetual study and delight. Not only did he contribute liberally to this object with his purse, but with his time, his talents, and his active exertions. Every Institution which has been formed, (in London, at least), having for its object the promotion of the cause of the New Church, found in him a generous patron and an efficient member; and of most of them he was one of the founders. Indeed, it may be truly said, that there was no private person throughout the kingdom who was more completely identified with the cause of the New Church, than was this truly valuable character, Mr. John Presland.

But while he thus seemed to live to promote the cause of true religion which he had so deeply at heart, and was so active in works of zeal and charity, he did not neglect his ordinary duties. His zeal and charity were of that genuine kind which are united with prudence, and which thus, while they do good in the best manner, retain and improve the ability to do it. Few men perform their duties to their families as did our departed friend. None could be more diligent in attending to the calls of business: and if, nevertheless, he found means to do so much for the promotion of objects of public or of private beneficence, it was because he possessed a capacity of exertion which falls to the lot of few, and a buoyancy of spirit which rendered him regardless of fatigue. Most truly may it be said of him, that he never was weary in well-doing. Nature had done much for him, in giving him, notwithstanding the drawback of a constitutional asthma, superior endowments both of body and mind; and religion - the religion of the New Church - had done more, by directing those endowments to the noblest objects. His active exertions also, and his liberal mind, were not restricted to the promotion of the religious establishment which he had embraced with such affection; he was the earnest promoter of other charitable objects: thus, for instance, his love of music, joined with his benevolent disposition, made him take a deep interest in the Choral Fund, which, for many years, owed great part of its support to his extraordinary diligence, and the patronage he procured for it: and he was always ready to exert himself strenuously to promote the welfare of all whom he thought deserving, and to require his assistance. Indeed, use was his delight. An inactive heaven, could there be such a one, would be no heaven to him: but a heaven where the performance of uses forms the delight of the inhabitants, will be felt by him as his proper home.

Of the affection with which he laboured to promote both the welfare of the New Church and of worthy individuals, the effort he made to benefit the former Minister at Brightlingsea, Mr. Arthur Munson, is an illustrious instance, and well deserves to be recorded. This worthy man, who was previously the local preacher of the Methodists at that place, and to whose reception of the heavenly doctrines it was owing that so large a proportion of persons in that village embraced them, was by trade a gardener, who raised seeds for the London market: but the piece of ground he occupied being sterile, a succession of bad seasons brought him and his family, notwithstanding the most exemplary industry, into great difficulty. Mr. Presland, who from the first introduction of the New Church into the place had taken an extraordinary interest in its welfare, entered deeply into his case, and asked him if there was any ground in the neighbourhood which would suit him better; when he pointed out a piece which was at the time to be sold. Mr. Presland immediately set off to Colchester to see about purchasing it: and after a great deal of trouble, and sustaining a very heavy loss through the chicanery of some parties concerned in the sale, and paying altogether a great deal more than he could ever hope to sell the property for again, he got possession of it. He was nevertheless delighted at the thought of having it in his power to do something effectual for good Mr. Munson. He asked him what rent he thought he could afford to give him for the land: and the honest man mentioning a sum which Mr. Presland thought much beyond what he could pay and yet live with comfort, he let it him at a rent greatly under what he spontaneously offered. His beneficent intentions however, by the inscrutable permission of Providence, were disappointed after all: for before the first harvest could be gathered, poor Munson was seized with a typhus fever, and died; leaving his affairs much involved, and a widow and four children destitute. An appeal was made in her behalf to the members of the Church (see Repository, First Series, vol. iv. p. 534), and a little income was raised for her by annual subscriptions: and Mr. Presland, for his part, though a considerable loser by her husband's death, beside making every exertion to forward the subscription, allowed her to live in a cottage on the estate, rent-free. The annual subscriptions for her benefit gradually fell off, and at length were altogether discontinued: but Mr. Presland never charged her with rent, and she has enjoyed the cottage, gratis, till this day.

Such was he who is now gone to his reward. He was a man of the most truly honest and independent mind, who never disguised his feelings or feared to speak his sentiments; whence his manners had sometimes an air of bluntness which might be misunderstood; though no man could be more distant from intentionally hurting the feelings, or needlessly opposing the sentiments, of others. He was, indeed, in a most eminent degree, a compound of kind affections, which were ever overflowing to all around him. He was full of goodwill to all; and his friendship for those with whom he was intimate was more than friendship - it was ardent love.

It is a circumstance sufficient remarkable to deserve mention, that, though the manner of his removal was unexpected, he had a deep presentiment on his mind that his time here was short. Among other proofs of this, it may be stated, that, when at the late Brightlingsea Anniversary, he took a particular solemn leave of the friends of the Church there, for whom he had always evinced so much affection. He told them that he had attended every Anniversary which they had held since the first formation of the society; but that he never should attend another, being certain that he should be in eternity before the next came round.

The death of this valuable member of society teaches a lesson of prudence, in addition, but in an inverse manner, to the higher lesson taught by his life. The illness which carried him off was brought on by inconsiderately swallowing a large glass of soda water when he was violently heated by walking several miles in a sultry day. He was instantly seized with extreme shivering: fever ensued, and in less than three weeks a haemorrhage, the consequence of obstruction and debility, terminated his useful life. He has left a blank in a very extensive circle which will not easily be filled up, and a void in many a heart that will not easily be supplied: but his friends follow him in his flight, and in thought behold him in the midst of a heavenly circle, for which he was prepared by a life of love and usefulness.

PS Page 12 penultimate line, for Chester read Nantwich.

NB 1825 to 1831 inclusive, Hawkstone had to be abandoned in favour of Warwick because John Clowes was too old to travel.